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Q&A with Bellmont Partners’ New Senior Account Executive, Krista Kuzma

In ear­ly Novem­ber, Bell­mont Part­ners wel­comed a new Senior Account Exec­u­tive to the team. Her arrival feels a bit like a full-cir­cle moment for some of us.

After 16 years sup­port­ing var­i­ous projects on behalf of Mid­west Dairy and more than 5,000 dairy farm­ers through­out the region – includ­ing Minnesota’s famous Princess Kay of the Milky Way pro­gram – we’re excit­ed to wel­come a for­mer jour­nal­ist we’ve worked close­ly with for most of that time: Krista Kuz­ma. Krista, a for­mer asso­ciate edi­tor at a dairy indus­try news­pa­per, served as a dairy princess/ambassador while grow­ing up on a dairy farm in south­ern Min­neso­ta. We talked with her about her love of telling sto­ries – both about the dairy industry’s peo­ple and prod­ucts, and across near­ly every oth­er industry.

Tell us about grow­ing up on a farm. 

My par­ents and sev­er­al extend­ed fam­i­ly mem­bers run Shee­knoll Farms, a 300-cow and 900-acre dairy farm just out­side Rochester, Min­neso­ta. Some of my favorite mem­o­ries grow­ing up hap­pened while help­ing with chores. Most peo­ple don’t think chores are fun, but I think they are – at least most of the time. It was so much fun to both work and play along­side my sib­lings and cousins, with so much space to run around and nev­er a short­age of things to do. My ear­li­est mem­o­ries are of help­ing my mom feed calves, and now I love to take my daugh­ters (Eleanor, 6, and Char­lotte, 3) out to the farm to help, too.

What sparked your inter­est in telling stories? 

As a 4‑H mem­ber and dairy ambas­sador grow­ing up, I spent plen­ty of time telling peo­ple about dairy. I was always pas­sion­ate about shar­ing our sto­ry and loved teach­ing peo­ple about how milk trav­eled from the farm to their tables, so I decid­ed to pur­sue a career in ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion after col­lege. It didn’t take me long to learn that teach­ing wasn’t quite the right fit for me, so I switched gears and start­ed tak­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion class­es. I real­ized I loved writ­ing, espe­cial­ly when it gave me a chance to talk to peo­ple and hear their sto­ries. I love it when oth­er peo­ple get so excit­ed about things they want to share. That gets me get excit­ed about their sto­ries and makes me want to get oth­er peo­ple excit­ed about them.

Tell us about some of your favorite assignments.

Wow, there are so many that have been so fun. I love being in some­one else’s ele­ment where they have a chance to show me what they’re doing and why they’re excit­ed about it. It’s been reward­ing to be a dairy com­mu­ni­ty reporter and do so many on-farm inter­views. I love it when a farm fam­i­ly gets excit­ed about a new project that’s going to help cre­ate more oppor­tu­ni­ties for their oper­a­tion, or when they’re excit­ed about a hob­by or some oth­er unique or unex­pect­ed inter­est. There have also been some fun off-farm moments, includ­ing cov­er­ing Princess Kay of the Milky Way and Fuel Up to Play 60 stu­dents on the field at a Vikings game, watch­ing dairy farm­ers inter­act with foot­ball fans at the Super Bowl Expe­ri­ence and trav­el­ing to Cal­i­for­nia to cov­er World Ag Expo.

What’s it like being “on the oth­er side” of the sto­ry pitch­ing process? 

It has been excit­ing and eye-open­ing. I didn’t real­ize how many oppor­tu­ni­ties there are to share sto­ries with peo­ple, and it’s been fun to think about sto­ry­telling from a con­tent per­spec­tive. It’s also been fun get­ting to know all of the dif­fer­ent types of clients in our port­fo­lio. I’m excit­ed to be able to keep telling sto­ries about all the good things that are going on in the world, espe­cial­ly in the midst of the past cou­ple years’ worth of chal­leng­ing stories.

Quick, with­out think­ing about it: what’s your favorite assign­ment – 300 words or 3,000 words? And why? 

Three thou­sand – as long as my sub­ject mat­ter has plen­ty of infor­ma­tion to share. I like to be able to dive into a sto­ry a bit more. Our typ­i­cal word counts at Dairy Star were 800 to 1,200 words, and it was so great to be able to have that much room to explore something.

One thing I am notic­ing about the tran­si­tion from a news­pa­per to pub­lic rela­tions is that some of those longer word counts allow for more oppor­tu­ni­ties to use cre­ative lan­guage. That’s been real­ly fun.

Speak­ing of fun, tell us about your hob­bies out­side of work.

Out­side of our home, our two hap­py places are the farm and my husband’s family’s cab­in near Ely. We like to take our daugh­ters on small adven­tures, espe­cial­ly in nature, and are on a mis­sion to vis­it every state park. As the girls get old­er, we’re going to explore nation­al parks. Last year, we lost our fam­i­ly dog, Gus, who was an awe­some hik­ing bud­dy, so we also hope to get anoth­er pup­py someday.

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